Annual report, June 2012
Chair’s Report for Operation Noah Annual Supporter’s Meeting 2012, presented by Isabel Carter, Oxford, 23rd June 2012.
This year finds us in a much more positive situation than last year when we spent a year downsizing and pulling in our belts to cope with a very constrained financial situation.
This last year has seen the organisation living within our means – with Natalie providing a very flexible admin coverage for just two days a week and with Board members showing enormous commitment and vision. This has enabled Operation Noah not just to survive, but to achieve a considerable amount. But we would love to encourage more monthly standing orders to sustain and indeed expand our administrative base and staffing. Indeed we cannot really take on more staff without such ongoing support.
Last year we had the benefit of Lynn MacDonald’s visionary and inspiring talk at the supporters meeting. Her commitment to Operation Noah has continued, both as an active member of our Theology think tank and also in sending Operation Noah a very generous donation of £10,000 from a charitable foundation she is linked with. That donation changed our status from survival to planning for the future.
Last autumn Professor Tim Gorringe gave our annual lecture in St Mary Le Bow. His topic was ‘Climate change: a confessional issue for the Churches?’ and his lecture was warmly received. It also gave hints on the rationale and content of the forthcoming Ash Wednesday Declaration.
The Ash Wednesday Declaration
Operation Noah's Theology think tank has worked really hard this year. They put together the challenging ‘Call to the Church’ – a Declaration based loosely around the Barmen Declaration during the Nazi era. The Ash Wednesday Declaration uses biblical principles to outline simply and powerfully the rationale for an urgent Christian response to climate change. The text was agreed by early 2012, designed and then circulated to key denominational leaders. We were thrilled by the response. The final declaration was signed by leaders of all the major UK denominations and also by emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The content was not leaked to the press and a very successful press launch was coordinated by Steve Goddard. A number of services were held around the country on Ash Wednesday to mark the launch with prayer. Articles were published in virtually all the Christian media with some coverage in the secular press. Social media also proved effective in spreading the message – via Facebook and Twitter.
A very enthusiastic response came from Rev Henrik Grape of the Church of Sweden. On day one the declaration was on the Christian Council of Sweden already translated into Swedish!
Endorsements have now been received from all the major Christian organisations working on climate change: Tearfund, Progressio, Christian Aid, CAFOD, A Rocha, CEL and ECEN – the European Christian Environmental Network. Indeed ECEN hope to use the Ash Wednesday Declaration as one of the key documents to be considered in their assembly this autumn.
We’re keen not just for individuals to sign the Ash Wednesday Declaration but also for churches. To this end, there is a wide range of web resources supporting both the theology underlying the declaration and to help people share the background and content (including powerpoints and talk outlines). We’re keen for supporters to bring this key document to the attention of their PCC, pastor, elders or church council and ask them to consider it with care.
The launch of the Ash Wednesday Declaration also brought the keen eyes of a PR consultant and a fundraising adviser who both challenged us to consider the need for a clear message to come through our logo, strapline, vision and mission statement. Agreeing these was a helpful process for the Board. Our new flyer outlines these in much more detail. Please use these to pass on information about Operation Noah in your churches.
Dealing with the shrug factor
We’re really grateful to Paul Kerensa, our ‘in-house’ comedian for delving into the difficult area of highlighting climate change through humour. A huge challenge. We’ll be sharing some of his jokes on YouTube and are really grateful for all the heart searching that has gone into this! Let's hope that we can use this material to break into through the prevalent ‘shrug factor'!
A Board awayday in April provided a useful time to reflect on the launch of the Ash Wednesday Declaration, the follow-up to this, and to plan for the next couple of years. Among the things that emerged were:
We’re delighted to have Andy Adkins, Chief Executive Officer for Friends of the Earth and a committed Christian with a long track record of advocacy work on climate change with Tearfund, to be our speaker. This will take place in London during November.
Last year Operation Noah participated in the G-source tent at Greenbelt. This year all the various Christian organisations that come together for this, have agreed to focus on the Ash Wednesday Declaration – each taking on the seven different topics as their focus. There are opportunities to speak for Operation Noah Board members. We’ll be looking for other ways to attract attention onto the Declaration too! Ideas welcome!
“The next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: "What were you thinking: why didn’t you act?" Or, they will ask instead: "How did you find the moral courage to rise up and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?" Al Gore